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Bible Commentaries

Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures
John 3

 

 

Other Authors
Verses 1-15

Jesus Calls Nicodemus - In John 3:1-15 Jesus Christ calls Nicodemus by answering his questions. This Pharisee came to Him by night for fear of being seen by his fellow peers.

John 3:2 — "The same came to Jesus by night" - Comments- Nicodemus came to Jesus by night because he was afraid that his colleagues would see him if he came by day. Such fear from peer pressure is also common among Christian groups today. Many ministers spend their entire ministry careers keeping the rules and doctrines and traditions within their peer group, rather than brake away and have the liberty to preach and teach by their inner convictions, and been ridiculed as a failure or as a member of a cult.

John 3:2 — "and said unto him, Rabbi" - Comments- Nicodemus gave Jesus the most respectful title in greeting him that he knew; for a rabbi was one of the most respected persons in Jewish society.

John 3:2 — "we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him" - Comments- The second section of John's testimony of seven miracles emphasizes Jesus' divine calling, being sent from the Father in Heaven with a predestined purpose of redeeming mankind from their sins. This statement by Nicodemus in John 3:2 acknowledges Jesus' calling and being sent by His Father.

During Jesus' public ministry in Galilee the people received Him as the Messiah. They believed in Him and received miracles according to their faith. In fact, Jesus commended their faith as the reason for their healings. In contrast, the Judean ministry was met by much adversity from the Jewish leaders. On such occasions Jesus often operated in the gifts of the Spirit by working signs and miracles in demonstration of His Sonship to God the Father. These dramatic signs and wonders were done in His Judean ministry so that the people might lay aside their doubts and fears and believe in Him. In John 3:2 Nicodemus refers to these miracles as a genuine testimony that Jesus has been sent by God with a valid message to the Jews.

John 3:2Comments - Nicodemus opens up the conversation with gracious words acknowledging that good things that Jesus was doing. He gave Jesus the highest title that he felt was appropriate at the time, not understanding Him as the Son of God. As a missionary in Uganda, I am often approached with a customary greeting of thanking me for the good work I am doing, calling me by the title of "Pastor" or "Reverend." On then does the person begin making a statement or request.

John 3:3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

John 3:3 — "Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee," - Comments - When Jesus responds to Nicodemus with the opening phrase, "verily, verily…," He is offering Nicodemus the highest source of authority, which is Himself. While the Jewish rabbis often referred to the long, traditional of rabbinic authority in order to interpret the Old Testament Scriptures, Jesus shifts the weight of authority from Jewish tradition to Himself, something Nicodemus would be keen to pick up because he has just told Jesus, "we know that thou art a teacher come from God…"

John 3:3 — "Except a man be born again" - Comments- The phrase "born again" literally reads in the Greek text, "born from above." The Jews called Jerusalem the "mother" city. Therefore, Paul writes to the Galatians and calls heavenly Jerusalem the mother of all of the believers.

Galatians 4:26, "But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all."

It is in this context that Jesus is telling a Jewish scholar that he must be born from the heavenly mother, and not the earthly mother.

John 3:3"he cannot see the kingdom of God" - Comments - That Isaiah , he cannot "perceive the spiritual insights into the kingdom of God."

John 3:3Comments- Jesus replies to Nicodemus by calling him, a Jew, to partake of the New Covenant, which is sealed by the born-again experience.

John 3:4Comments- Nicodemus was a trained theologian, and had learned to live by logical reasoning. A trained mind, such as an educated Pharisee, grasps for logical concepts and understanding rather than simply believing with childlike faith.

John 3:5 — "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit" - Comments- In the context of this passage, Jesus is telling Nicodemus that there is a natural birth and a spiritual birth. Therefore, being born of water refers to the natural birth and being born of the Spirit clearly refers to the spiritual birth. The following verse supports this meaning by comparing the experiences of being born of the flesh and of the Spirit.

John 3:5 — "enter into the kingdom of God" - Comments- This refers to actually entering in the experience of salvation, compared to verse three where seeing the kingdom of God means having the revelation of the need for salvation into the kingdom of God.

John 3:6"that which is born of the Spirit is spirit" - Comments- God gives to us His Spirit. In the spirit realm, a Christian is born from above, and not in his fleshy body.

John 3:7Comments- The Greek word "born again" literally means, "born from above." In John 3:7 Jesus is calling Nicodemus to accept Him as the Son of God and be sealed into the New Covenant by being born again.

The pronoun "ye" is plural in the Greek text, so that Jesus is declaring a divine truth that extends beyond Nicodemus to Israel, and unto all of mankind.

John 3:8"thou hearest the sound thereof" - Comments- The Holy Spirit has a "voice," or a "sound." We cannot see with our natural eyes where He blows, but if we will learn to hear "the sound thereof," which is His voice, we can follow that voice and be led by the Spirit.

John 3:8 — "so is every one that is born of the Spirit" - Comments- When a person is born again inside, we cannot see the new birth, but we can hear the person"s change in confession and see a new lifestyle.

John 3:8Comments - Nicodemus was an Old Testament scholar and fully understood the two-fold meaning of the Hebrew word רוּח as "wind" and "spirit." He also understood the similar nature of wind and spirit from his rabbinical studies. For this reason, in John 3:8 Jesus uses an illustration from nature of the wind blowing to explain the moving of the Holy Spirit in the life of one who is born again, a comparison that fit within the theological training of Nicodemus. In fact, this Jewish teacher was aware of the many instances in the Old Testament when this Hebrew word described the Spirit of God moving with similar characteristics as the wind ( Genesis 1:2, 1 Kings 18:12. 2 Kings 2:16, many instances in Ezekiel). 141]

141] Ernest DeWitt Burton, Spirit, Soul, and Flesh, in Historical and Linguistic Studies in Literature Related to the New Testament, second series,vol 3 (Chicago, Illinois: The University of Chicago Press, 1918), 55.

Genesis 1:2, "And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters."

1 Kings 18:12, "And it shall come to pass, as soon as I am gone from thee, that the Spirit of the LORD shall carry thee whither I know not; and so when I come and tell Ahab, and he cannot find thee, he shall slay me: but I thy servant fear the LORD from my youth."

2 Kings 2:16, "And they said unto him, Behold now, there be with thy servants fifty strong men; let them go, we pray thee, and seek thy master: lest peradventure the Spirit of the LORD hath taken him up, and cast him upon some mountain, or into some valley. And he said, Ye shall not send."

Ezekiel 2:2, "And the spirit entered into me when he spake unto me, and set me upon my feet, that I heard him that spake unto me."

We know that when the wind blows the weather is changing, or day is turning into the night, or that the seasons of the year are changing. When the Lord has taken me through seasons of change on my spiritual journey, I feel a restlessness inside as the Spirit begins to move, or blow, within my spirit. I sense change a though I do not know what is about to happen. As God's children, we are to be led by God's Spirit once we are born again, and not by our senses.

Ecclesiastes 11:5 gives us a similar statement about the movement of the spirit within us and around us as God divinely orchestrated many events.

Ecclesiastes 11:5, "As thou knowest not what is the way of the spirit, nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child: even so thou knowest not the works of God who maketh all."

After we experience the natural birth, and then we come into the kingdom of God through our spiritual rebirth, we experience the leadership of the Holy Spirit. This is what Jesus is referring to in John 3:8 when talking about the Spirit being like the wind. Because we are now born of the Spirit, we go through times and seasons which are divinely orchestrated by the moving of the Spirit. This is especially made evident in our lives when the Spirit moves us into major changes in our lives. I call these "winds of change." There have been a number of times in my life when I felt the winds of change stirring in my Spirit and I have set back and watched the Holy Spirit bring me into a new level of Christian service. The Spirit causes a restlessness to enter our spirit so that we are no longer at peace where we are. We feel a strong urge and desire to go onto something more; for we have been designed and created with a destiny and a desire to fulfill that destiny.

Note other Scriptures with a similar statement:

2 Corinthians 5:7, "(For we walk by faith, not by sight:)"

Galatians 5:25, "If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit."

John 3:9 Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be?

John 3:9"How can these things be" - Comments- Nicodemus fails to understand what Jesus is talking about. He is simply saying, "I do not understand." Jesus responds by saying, "You are a teacher in Israel and do not understand these things?"

Nicodemus is giving Jesus an educated kind of reaction to spiritual truths. It makes it hard to simply accept God's Word by faith alone. Paul referred to this natural way of thinking when encountering spiritual truths in 1 Corinthians 2:1-16. He said that the natural man cannot receive these spiritual truths because they can only be understood from a spiritual perspective.

1 Corinthians 2:14, "But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned."

John 3:10 Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?

John 3:11 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness.

John 3:11 — "and ye receive not our witness" - Comments- Note how many testimonies, or witnesses, of Jesus have been given thus far in Jesus" ministry:

1. John the Baptist

John 1:15, "John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me."

John 5:33, "Ye sent unto John , and he bare witness unto the truth."

2. The disciples

John 1:46, "And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see."

3. God the Father

John 5:37-38, "And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape. And ye have not his word abiding in you: for whom he hath sent, him ye believe not."

John 8:18, "I am one that bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me beareth witness of me."

4. The Holy Spirit

John 1:32, "And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him."

5. His works

John 4:29, "Come, see a Prayer of Manasseh , which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?"

John 5:36, "But I have greater witness than that of John: for the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me."

6. Jesus himself

John 8:18, "I am one that bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me beareth witness of me."

7. The Scriptures

John 5:39-40, "Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life."

John 5:46-47, "For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?"

John 3:11Comments- The personal pronoun "our" may refer to the many witnesses of Jesus, being used like the Hebrew "plural of majesty" in the Old Testament Scriptures. However, the pronouns "we" and "our" certainly imply the trinity: God the Father, Jesus the Son and Holy Spirit; for it is they who worked together to bring Jesus Christ down to earth through the virgin birth and anointed Him for His ministry to perform these miracles.

Scripture Reference- John 3:11 is similar to John 3:32.

John 3:32, "And what he hath seen and heard, that he testifieth; and no man receiveth his testimony."

John 3:12 If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?

John 3:12Comments- Jesus' witness to Nicodemus begins where Nicodemus was at, with earthly things.

John 3:11-12Comments - Jesus Speaks to Nicodemus in the Plural- In John 3:11-12 Jesus speaks to Nicodemus in the second person plural in some of His statement, which we could translate "you all," or, "all of you." In addressing Nicodemus, Jesus also refers to Himself in the plural. He appears to be speaking in behalf of Himself and the Father to mankind in general, in particular those who reject His testimony. In the case of Nicodemus, Jesus appears to be speaking also the Pharisees and other Jewish leaders who are rejected Him.

John 3:13 And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.

John 3:13 Comments- Jesus has come from heaven, so He know of heavenly things.

John 3:14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:

John 3:14Comments- The serpent is a representative of sin in the Scriptures. This symbol made by Moses represented the fact that Jesus became sin for us. He not only paid for our sins, He literally became sin. Note:

2 Corinthians 5:21, "For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him."

Symbolism of the brass serpent:

1. As the serpent is the symbol of sin, so Jesus became our sin-bearer on the Cross.

2. Just as the serpent was lifted up on a pole, so it symbolized the lifting up Jesus on the Cross and later He was lifted up from death to the right hand of God the Father.

3. The act of gazing upon the brass serpent was the only remedy for living after having been bitten by the serpents in the wilderness. Jesus is the only remedy for our sins, just as there was only one remedy given in the wilderness.

John 3:15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

John 3:15Comments- Jesus makes a call for all men to receive eternal life under the New Covenant through faith in Him as the Son of God.

John 3:13-15Comments -Jesus Explains His Calling- In John 3:13-15 Jesus Christ explains His divine calling to Nicodemus. Just as those who looked up in faith at the brass serpent in the wilderness received healing and physical life ( Numbers 21:4-9), those who look in faith to Jesus' redemptive work on Calvary will have eternal life. Thus, Jesus is explaining the spiritual by using a natural event that served as an allegory of the spiritual.


Verses 1-21

The Example of Nicodemus' Faith (Nicodemus' Testimony of His Faith in Jesus Being Sent From Heaven) - The underlying theme of the second Jewish festival narrative is the testimony Jesus' calling, which is described here as One who has been sent by God. The story of Nicodemus coming to Jesus by night and testifying of his faith in Him as One who has been sent by God is an excellent example of the truth John the apostle teaches in the previous passage of John 2:23-25. The story of Nicodemus is preceded with a statement by the author that many people began to believe in Jesus Christ because of His miracles; yet, Jesus Christ knew men's hearts and was not yet willing to commit Himself to them ( John 2:23-25). Then there follows the story of Nicodemus as an example of this statement ( John 3:1-21). Nicodemus believed in Jesus Christ, but he was not willing to publicly acknowledge his belief before his Jewish peers out of fear of man. Although Nicodemus and others believed that Jesus had been sent by God, He did not commit Himself to the people.

Jesus' line of reasoning with Nicodemus is to say that if He is indeed from God, as Nicodemus acknowledges, then He must speak of heavenly things, and not of the earthly ( John 3:31; John 3:34). John the Baptist will follow this same line of reasoning in the following passage ( John 3:22-36).

Outline - Here is a proposed outline:

1. Jesus Calls Nicodemus — John 3:1-15

2. Jesus Calls All Men — John 3:16-21

Nicodemus is the Only Believing Jewish Leader Mentioned by Name - Of all the religious leaders of the Jews, Nicodemus is the only one mentioned by name in the Gospels who opened his heart up to Jesus. Others believed in Jesus but could not do so publicly out of fear of what might happen to them by their peers.

John 12:42, "Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue:"

Had these leaders been water baptized, they would have publicly acknowledged their faith in John the Baptist and Jesus Christ as the Messiah and would have been rejected by their peers. This is why Nicodemus came to Jesus by night. Even then, Nicodemus struggled with the true identity of Jesus as the Messiah. Under the cover of the night because of his peer pressure, this Pharisee came to Jesus to know who He was. Although Nicodemus did not recognize Jesus Christ as the Messiah, but only as a man of God, Jesus met him on his level. Jesus knew that the most important lesson for Nicodemus to receive was the revelation of Jesus as the divine Son of God. This revelation could only come through the born again experience.

Jesus responded to Nicodemus at his level of understanding, because our Saviour always ministered to others at their point of faith. Since he acknowledged that Jesus was sent from God, Jesus replied that he also needed an experience from God by being born again. Jesus then explained to Nicodemus the born again experience. Jesus explained to him how to enter into this experience only after Nicodemus inquired further about this topic. (The Holy Spirit is never pushy in our lives as He guides us. We must seek the truth before Him will guide us into the truth.) Nicodemus asked, "How can these things be?" ( John 3:9). Jesus then explained that He Himself had come down from heaven ( John 3:13) and was of divine nature as the Son of God. Nicodemus then faced the decision of whether to believe this testimony of Jesus Christ and be born again ( John 3:15-16) or whether to reject this message ( John 3:17-21).

The purpose of this passage was to bear witness through Nicodemus that Jesus Christ was the Only Begotten Son of God who came to die for the sins of the world ( John 3:16).

The Born Again Experience - I am tempted to ask a question when reading of Jesus' testimony to Nicodemus of the need to be born again, or born from above. How could he be expected to know about such spiritual things, especially since the born again experience did not begin until the church was born in the second chapter of Acts? One clue may be found in the continual references to His redemptive death and resurrection throughout the Gospel of John. We find an earlier reference to the need to be born again in the opening passage in John 1:13, which says, "Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of Prayer of Manasseh , but of God." Thus, the messages that John's Gospel records of our Saviour are prophetic of the coming Church age. Thus, Jesus was speaking prophetically both to Nicodemus and us as well.


Verses 16-21

Jesus Calls All Men - In John 3:16-21 Jesus Christ makes His call to all men. This passage of Scripture contains perhaps the most well-known verse in the Scriptures, which is John 3:16, a verse that summarizes the ultimate theme of the Scriptures, and God's call for mankind to accept Jesus Christ as the Son of God.

When Jesus entered His public ministry, it is important to note that He never condemned the sinner of his sins ( John 3:17). For example, Jesus did not condemn the woman taken in adultery ( John 8:1-11), nor the Samaritan woman who had been with five husbands ( John 4:1-42). Rather, He offered Himself to them as their Healer and miracle-worker in order that they might believe in Him as their Saviour. Although He rebuked the Jewish leaders because they despised Him and they looked down upon the sinners, He did not come to condemn mankind for their sins. He looked forward to His work of redemption on Calvary and loved them, knowing that their sins were about to be paid for on Calvary. God's wrath was poured out upon Jesus Christ, so that He is no longer at war with sinful Prayer of Manasseh , as we see in the Old Testament Scriptures.

Under the Old Covenant God dealt with His children Israel by using judgment for their sins. In a similar manner, we judge our children when they disobey simply because a child cannot understand the results of his sins. However, when our children become adults, we no long discipline our children; rather, we become friends, realizing that they understand the difference between right and wrong. We stand with our children when they become adults and are ready to offer advice. In a similar way, God judged Israel as His children under the Law because they could not understand God's ways in the manner we understand under the New Covenant by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Like spanking a child, divine judgment was the only thing that Israel understood under the Old Covenant when breaking the Law. When Jesus came upon this earth and paid for the sins of mankind, past, present, and future, pouring out His Holy Spirit into the hearts of those who believe in Him, God could then call them His "friends" ( John 15:15).

John 15:15, "Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you."

The Author's Commentary - Scholars popularly believe that John 3:16-21 contains a commentary on the discourse between Jesus and Nicodemus recorded in John 3:1-20. The author pauses from his narrative to give his readers the reason for God's offer of eternal life, which comes from His love for mankind. John the apostle pauses a number of times in his Gospel to make such comments. For example, we see a similar commentary in John 3:31-36 as the author explains the words of John the Baptist recorded in John 3:27-30. Also, in John 18:9 the author makes comments in John 18:9; John 18:32 and John 19:35-37 of fulfilled prophecy in the midst of the narrative story of Jesus' arrest, trial, and crufixion.

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Song of Solomon , that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

John 3:16 — "For God so loved the world" - Comments- One Sunday morning, a person that I had a crush on announced that she was engaged to a young man. Song of Solomon , with a broken heart, I drove home, lay on the floor and prayed these words, "Lord, it hurts so much to love." The Lord immediately spoke this verse to me, "For God so loved the world." In other words, God has felt the same hurt and rejection that I was feeling. I realized at that moment just how much God loved mankind, even every individual on earth. God loves people, and when we hurt other people, we are hurting the one He loves the most. I began to see people in a different way from then on and began treating them with much more thoughtfulness, now knowing how God felt about them, how much God loved them, and how dangerous it is to injure those whom He dearly loves.

John 3:16 — "that he gave his only begotten Son" - Comments- Here we see that giving is a natural result of true love. Giving comes from the heart of one who loves.

John 3:16 — "that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." - Word Study on "should not perish" - Strong says the Greek word "perish" ( ἀ πό λλυμι) (G 622) means, "to destroy fully," and reflexive, "to perish, lose." BDAG says it means, "perish, die."

Illustration - I was taking my son to Sunday School this morning and I felt compelled to ask him if he wanted to go into the church sanctuary with me or to go to his preschool Sunday School class. I gave him the choice because I love him and I wanted him to make the choice so that he would be the happiest. Love was the motive of me giving my son a choice. God allows us to choose whether to believe in Jesus or not because of His great love for us. Mankind was created with a free will because of God's love for us (7 August 2011).

John 3:16Comments (1) - Oral Roberts- Oral Roberts teaches a great truth from John 3:16. This most famous verse in the Holy Bible reveals that we are to give in order to expect to receive, as God did in this verse. God was motivated to give out of love (For God so loved the world), which must also me our motive for giving. He turned His love into an act of giving (that He gave). We see that God gave His very best (He gave His only begotten Son). Finally, God"s reason for giving was to get in return a redeemed mankind (that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life). We too are to learn to give our best out of love and to expect God to give us His best in return. 142]

142] Oral Roberts, interviewed by Benny Hinn, This is Your Day (Irving, Texas), on Trinity Broadcasting Network (Santa Ana, California), television program.

Paul Crouch- Paul Crouch tells the story of how he went before the Lord in prayer one day because of the criticism that Trinity Broadcasting Network had been receiving as a result of its program ministers teaching Christians how to give, expecting to receive back from God. He told the Lord that he needed a word from the Lord regarding this teaching. The Lord replied, "Did I give My Son on the Cross and not expect anything in return?" Crouch then understood how God sent His Son Jesus Christ to the Cross because He expected to receive millions of sons as people trusted in Jesus Christ as their Savior. 143]

143] Paul Crouch, "Behind the Scenes," on Trinity Broadcasting Network (Santa Ana, California), television program, 11June 2004.

Ed Young- Ed Young read John 3:16 on his television program, saying, "For God so loved the world (the breadth of God's love), that He gave His only begotten Son (the length of God's love), that whosoever believeth in Him (the depth of God's love), should not perish but have everlasting life (the height of God's love)." 144] This paraphrase reminds us of Ephesians 3:18-19, "May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God." Only when we have accepted the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of our sins can we begin to know the breadth, and length, and depth, and height of God's love, and this can come only by the indwelling Spirit of God, since Romans 5:5 says, "…because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us." This means that God's love now indwells us by the presence of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

144] Ed Young, "Winning Walk," (Winning Walk Family, Houston, Texas), on Trinity Broadcasting Network (Santa Ana, California), television program, 12January 2003).

Arthur Blessitt- Arthur Blessitt said that at the Cross the worst of man met the best of God. 145]

145] Arthur Blessitt, interviewed by Randy and Paula White (Church Without Walls, Tampa, Florida), on "Praise the Lord," on Trinity Broadcasting Network (Santa Ana, California), television program, 10 September 2002.

John 3:16Comments (2) - Salvation is free for anyone who believes, but it did not come cheap. It cost the life of God"s Only Son. God's Only Son was His greatest sacrifice. In Amos 8:10, the Lord says, "I will make it like mourning for an only son." The greatest loss was that of an only Song of Solomon , and thus it brought the greatest mourning. See 2 Samuel 14:7; 2 Samuel 21:10.

Illustrations:

2 Samuel 14:4-7, "And when the woman of Tekoah spake to the king, she fell on her face to the ground, and did obeisance, and said, Help, O king. And the king said unto her, What aileth thee? And she answered, I am indeed a widow woman, and mine husband is dead. And thy handmaid had two sons, and they two strove together in the field, and there was none to part them, but the one smote the other, and slew him. And, behold, the whole family is risen against thine handmaid, and they said, Deliver him that smote his brother, that we may kill him, for the life of his brother whom he slew; and we will destroy the heir also: and so they shall quench my coal which is left, and shall not leave to my husband neither name nor remainder upon the earth."

2 Samuel 21:10, "And Rizpah the daughter of Aiah took sackcloth, and spread it for her upon the rock, from the beginning of harvest until water dropped upon them out of heaven, and suffered neither the birds of the air to rest on them by day, nor the beasts of the field by night."

John 3:17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

John 3:17Comments- Jesus came to earth because the Father sent Him ( John 8:29). Jesus' main purpose in coming to live with mankind was to please the Father by doing His will.

John 8:29, "And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him."

John 3:18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

John 3:18Comments- Judgment has already been set before the foundation of the world. Those on the path of sin already have their judgment set. Jesus did not come to bring their judgment. Rather, He came to show us the right way.

John 3:19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

John 3:19 — "and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil" - Word Study on "evil" - BDAG says the Greek word πονηρός (G 4190) means, "wicked, evil, bad, base, worthless, vicious, degenerate."

Comments- One Sunday afternoon, I drove by a house on my way home from church. I felt inspired to turn around pull into the driveway of a house that was playing rock and roll music very loudly. I knocked on door. When the young man answered the door, I said, "I'm Gary Everett. You do not know me and don't know you." He said, "What church are you from?" I said, "I'm not from a church." Then I said to him that I wanted to tell him about Jesus on this Easter day. He quickly took me back into his room. It was dark, but I could see drums in room. He flipped the light on and revealed a room full of musical band equipment from a rock and roll band. We talked for about fifteen minutes. He was not interested in the Gospel. He had been raised in church and had a Christian friend who witnessed to him. He had a hard heart. The windows were covered with aluminum foil in order to make the house dark. There was a dreary, demonic feeling about this place of darkness. I politely left. (April 3, 1983)

John 3:19Comments- Liquor bars are dark and have no windows because the deeds that go on inside them are evil. The people in these bars love darkness. Job 38:12-13 says that daylight comes upon the earth to shake the evil people out of their darkness.

Job 38:12-13, "Hast thou commanded the morning since thy days; and caused the dayspring to know his place; That it might take hold of the ends of the earth, that the wicked might be shaken out of it?"

John 3:20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.

John 3:20Word Study on "evil" - BDAG says the Greek word φαϋλος (G 5337) means, "worthless, bad, evil, base."

John 3:20Comments- When we come to Jesus, our sins are revealed to us. We see how short we fall from being like Jesus Christ, our Lord and Precious Savior.

John 3:21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

John 3:19-21Comments - The Light of the World - The motif of Jesus Christ as the Light of the world is introduced in the prologue of John's Gospel ( John 1:1-18), and developed further in John 3:19-21. God has given mankind light of the knowledge of Him since the beginning of time through general revelation from His creation. Jesus has come as the Light to give us specific divine revelation of God's plan of redemption for mankind.


Verses 22-36

John the Baptist's Final Testimony of His Divine Calling- The underlying theme of the second Jewish festival narrative is the testimony Jesus' divine calling from the Father, which is described here as One who has been sent by God. We have recorded in John 3:22-36 what is perhaps the final testimony of John the Baptist as he testifies that Jesus Christ has been sent from Heaven as the Son of God. This section of John's Gospel also emphasizes the fact that the Jewish leaders rejected the testimony of Jesus Christ while the Gentiles accepted Him ( John 4:1-54). We have a passage of how Jesus began to baptize more disciples than John the Baptist, which raised concern by the Pharisees as to Jesus' motives. As a result Jesus departs through Samaria and is received by the Gentiles ( John 4:1-54). Thus, the author is structuring his Gospel to show how most of the Jews rejected Jesus' ministry and how many Gentiles accepted Him.

As Jesus continued His public ministry and baptized many who believed, John the Baptist gives his final testimony that Jesus was sent from heaven by the Father and man's need to believe this testimony ( John 3:22-36). John follows the same line of reasoning that Jesus Christ gave to Nicodemus, which is to say that if Jesus is indeed from God, then He must speak of heavenly things, and not of the earthly ( John 3:31; John 3:34).

The Author's Commentary - Scholars popularly believe that John 3:16-21 contains a commentary on the discourse between Jesus and Nicodemus recorded in John 3:1-20. The author pauses from his narrative to give his readers the reason for God's offer of eternal life, which comes from His love for mankind. John the apostle pauses a number of times in his Gospel to make such comments. For example, we see a similar commentary in John 3:31-36 as the author explains the words of John the Baptist recorded in John 3:27-30. Also, in John 18:9 the author makes comments in John 18:9; John 18:32 and John 19:35-37 of fulfilled prophecy in the midst of the narrative story of Jesus' arrest, trial, and crufixion.

John 3:22 After these things came Jesus and his disciples into the land of Judaea; and there he tarried with them, and baptized.

John 3:22 — "Jesus and his disciples" - Comments- We read in John 1:35-51 about the testimonies of how the disciples of John the Baptist recognized Jesus Christ as the Son of God. This passage tells us about five disciples named John , Andrew, Peter, Philip and Nathanael who met Jesus Christ and believed upon Him within the first few days of His Judean ministry. We will read in Matthew 4:18-22 how Jesus Christ was walking by the Sea of Galilee and called Peter, Andrew, John and James to follow Him while in His Galilean ministry. They immediately left their nets and followed Him. However, the events in the Gospel of Matthew took place after the death of John the Baptist, perhaps a year or two later. Thus, we see that the calling of disciples in the first few days of Jesus' ministry was not a calling to forsake their work and follow him, although we see them following him before the imprisonment of John the Baptist ( John 3:22-24). This second calling in Matthew emphasizes the fact that Jesus met them later and asked them at that time to lay down their nets, forsake all and follow Him permanently. In summary, John's Gospel emphasizes the fact that the disciples recognized Jesus Christ as the Son of God while Matthew's Gospel places emphasis upon Jesus selecting and training His disciples.

John 3:23 And John also was baptizing in Aenon near to Salim, because there was much water there: and they came, and were baptized.

John 3:23 — "And John was baptizing" - Comments- John was decreasing as Jesus' ministry began to increase. Those who came to be baptized were expressing and acting on their faith in God's most recent revelation of biblical truth to them, the time when Christ the kingdom of God was approaching them. Their faith was in John's message.

John 3:23 — "in Aenon near to Salim" - Comments- Aenon is near Jordan, about half way between the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea. It was on this road that Jesus journeyed in order to go around Samaria.

Herod Philip was the ruler over this region. Herod Antipas, who is the one who put John in prison, was the ruler over Galilee and Perea. Archelaus was the ruler over Judea and Samaria. 146]

146] Harry Thomas Frank, Discovering the Biblical World (New York: Harper and Row Publishers, 1974), 207, 240.

John 3:24 For John was not yet cast into prison.

John 3:24Comments- The Synoptic Gospels begin recording Jesus" ministry after the death of John the Baptist, while John's Gospel begins with the first days of His earthly ministry.

Matthew 4:12, "Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, he departed into Galilee;"

Mark 1:14, "Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God,"

Luke 3:19-21, "But Herod the tetrarch, being reproved by him for Herodias his brother Philip"s wife, and for all the evils which Herod had done, Added yet this above all, that he shut up John in prison. Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened,"

Matthew 4:17 tells us that this particular event marks the beginning of Jesus" preaching ministry. Thus, the reason the Synoptic Gospels begin at John"s death is because this is also when Jesus began to preach and to teach publicly.

Eusebius gives a very detailed account of the reason why John wrote his Gospel after the other three Gospels were written and widespread. He says that John was familiar with the other three Gospels, but he was compelled by his friends to write a record of the earliest miracles of our Lord, which had not been recorded in the other three Gospels. 147]

147] Eusebius writes, "For it is evident that the three evangelists recorded only the deeds done by the Saviour for one year after the imprisonment of John the Baptist, and indicated this in the beginning of their account….They say, therefore, that the apostle John , being asked to do it for this reason, gave in his Gospel an account of the period which had been omitted by the earlier evangelists, and of the deeds done by the Saviour during that period; that Isaiah , of those which were done before the imprisonment of the Baptist." (Ecclesiastical History 3248, 11)

Therefore, John makes a reference to his readers in John 3:24 to John's imprisonment as if it was already a well-known event.

We know from a study of the Gospel of John that the imprisonment of John the Baptist took place between the First ( John 2:13) and Second Passover ( John 6:4). Therefore, there was up to a year difference between the time when Jesus was baptized and when He began His public ministry. The Synoptic Gospels tell us that Jesus began His public ministry at John"s death, although the Gospel of John gives us testimony of earlier miracles in Jesus' ministry. Why would Jesus wait up to a year to go public? Perhaps an answer lies in the suggestion that Jesus respected the ministry of John the Baptist so that He did not make a public display until John's ministry had come to an end. It is interesting to see how God never seems to be in a hurry.

Regarding Jesus' respect for John the Baptist's public ministry, I suggest this reason for Jesus waiting until John's death to go public because of a careful study of the lives and ministries of some of the apostles both within and outside of the Scriptures. This study reveals such an attitude between the apostles themselves. There was a tremendous respect and reverence for one another's ministry and hesitancy to overlay the other's work, lest one gain undue credit above the other. The apostles may have learned this respect for one another as a result of observing Jesus' behavior towards John the Baptist.

John 3:25Comments- The Jews had a set of culturally accepted cleansing traditions. John the Baptist's message of repentance and cleansing of the heart through the act of water baptism was now being called into question by them in John 3:25.

John 3:29Word Study on "rejoiceth greatly" - The Greek phrase χαρᾷ χαίρει is a Hebrew idiom and is literally translated, "he rejoices (with) joy," but means, "he rejoices greatly."

John 3:30 He must increase, but I must decrease.

John 3:30Comments- The Gospels tells us that Jesus Christ entered the ministry at the baptism of John. However, He did not reach the fullness of this ministry until after the imprisonment of John. The three Synoptic Gospels give us no record of his earthly ministry until after John's imprisonment. Thus, Jesus did not significantly increase until John had decreased by being imprisoned and killed. I believe that Jesus did this out of respect for John's ministry and calling, not wanting to cross over into another man's work. We also see this attitude in the lives of the early apostles. When one was called to a certain region, the other disciples were careful not to impose their influence into this region.

John 3:31 He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: he that cometh from heaven is above all.

John 3:32 And what he hath seen and heard, that he testifieth; and no man receiveth his testimony.

John 3:32 — "And what he hath seen and heard" - Comments- That Isaiah , what Jesus has seen and heard from the Heavenly Father.

John 15:15, "Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you."

John 5:19, "Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise."

Scripture Reference- This verse is similar to John 3:11

John 3:11, "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness."

John 3:33Comments- Regarding the phrase "set to his seal, the NIV reads, "certified." It is like one certifies or signs his name on a document to testify to its truth.

John 3:34Comments - Jesus Christ was given the full measure of the Holy Spirit during His earthly ministry. He walked in all of the offices of the 5-fold ministry: apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher ( Ephesians 4:11). The Gospel of John will testify of Jesus' pastoral office, Matthew will testify of His teaching office, Mark will testify of His office as an evangelist, and Luke -Acts will testify of His prophetic-apostolic office. Jesus Christ also demonstrated all of the nine-fold gifts of the Holy Spirit listed in 1 Corinthians 12:4-11 except the gift of tongues and interpretation of tongues, which was not given until the day of Pentecost. While the Holy Spirit distributes these gifts individually to believers as He wills ( 1 Corinthians 12:11), Jesus received the full measure of the gifts of the Spirit.

Ephesians 4:11, "And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;"

1 Corinthians 12:11, "But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will."

John 3:35Comments - God the Father has given to Jesus Christ His Son the full measure of the Holy Spirit and His gifts to use in His earthly ministry.

 


Copyright Statement
These files are copyrighted by the author, Gary Everett. Used by Permission.
No distribution beyond personal use without permission.

Bibliography Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on John 3:4". Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ghe/john-3.html. 2013.

Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, October 19th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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